Upon receiving complaints their photographs appeared foggy, Kodak investigations in 1946 led to the discovery of a dangerous government secret.
Yet it was one Kodak kept to themselves, Fstoppers.com reports.
"Whether by choice or by order of the government, Kodak remained silent, however, and the public was not made aware of the risk," Alex Cooke writes for the website.
When authorities began probing the source of the poor photo quality, they stumbled upon an unusual location: the contaminated corn husks of Indiana. These husks were used for a variety of purposes, from food to padding for shipping materials.
Radioactive isotope I-131 had somehow polluted the husks, affecting the quality of the photographs.
When Kodak probed further to discover the source of the radioactive elements, they stumbled upon classified information.
Connecting the dots, they came to a shocking realization: the radioactive iodine stemmed from a secret atomic test the government had just performed in July 1945 in New Mexico.
The Trinity Test wasn’t just any test, however. It was the one that many experts say started the nuclear age, History.com reports.
“A ball of fire tore up into the sky and then was surrounded by a giant mushroom cloud stretching some 40,000 feet across,” History.com writes as they describe the tests. “With a power equivalent to around 21,000 tons of TNT, the bomb completely obliterated the steel tower on which it rested.”
After authorities completed the tests, they’d bomb Japan a few months later, helping end World War II.
What became clear to Kodak is that it wasn’t just their photographs that had been contaminated. The radioactive iodine had likely also polluted the food chain.
Much time would pass before the government was forced to divulge the information to the public.
“It was part of several government programs that knowingly and secretly sacrificed human well-being for the sake of science during the middle of the 1900s. It would not be until a decade after photographic manufacturers were made privy to the details of these tests that the general public would be granted the same privilege,” Cooke explains.
Meanwhile, the first twenty years of the Atomic Age alone would lead to 75,000 cases of cancers developing that would later be linked to the tests. None were properly treated because the government kept the connection a secret.